ILO-IPEC Thailand works together with DOF and DLPW to train fisheries officials on Child Labour and Forced Labour and organizes series of consultations

The ILO-IPEC Thailand commenced a new leg in its work against child labour and forced labour in the fisheries sector through a series of capacity building and training efforts aimed at training and orienting Provincial DOF staff on child labour and forced labour laws and regulations with focus on aquamarine shrimp farming which begun on the 22nd of August.

News | 27 August 2013
The Department of Fisheries (DOF) staff capacity building sessions are followed with aquamarine farmers consultations facilitated by the Deparment of Labour Protection and Welfare (DLPW) and DOF to discuss farmer’s roles in addressing child labour and forced labour and the development of Good Labour Practices (GLP) guidelines for aquamarine shrimp farming.

Four two day training-cum-consultation series will be organized between August and September 2013 covering coastal Provinces in Thailand with 120 DOF officials and 240 farmers estimated to participate. The first consultation in the series was organized in Chonbori 22-23 August. During the first day 35 DOF officials (15 men and 20 women) were present: the second day with farmers was participated by 106 farmer’s association members and DOF staff (62 men and 44 women). from eight Provinces of Chonburi, Samut Songkhram, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Rayong, Chanthaburi, Trat and Chackoengsao.

The three remaining training-cum-consultation will be organized in Chumphon, Songkhla and Phuket Provinces later on.

Department of Fisheries staff plays an important role in addressing child labour

DOF officials play a crucial role in promoting better labour standards in the fisheries industry as it has developed extensive technical advisory, quality and hygiene control systems for the fisheries industry in Thailand over the years . DOF has operations in 22 coastal Provinces and is mandated by the Government to assist the fisheries industry in meeting international standards in the areas of quality, environmental sustainability, food safety and increasingly social responsibility.

DOF officials visit aquaculture farms and are in direct contact with both farm employers and workers. By gaining a better understanding of child labour and generally on working conditions the officials can support positive improvements at the farm level and encourage employers, workers and community members to address child labour and take necessary steps to enhance the working and living conditions at farms.

Farmers Consultation’s help develop Good Labour Practices Guidelines

During the first training-cum-consultation DLPW and DOF specialists collaborated with ILO-IPEC as resource persons and facilitated discussions with shrimp farmers and hatchery owners... DLPW is working actively together with ILO-IPEC in assessing working conditions in the aquamarine farming sector and developing together with DOF and ILO-IPEC a set of Good Labour Practices (GLP) guidelines for the aquamarine shrimp farming. The GLP guidelines are aimed at promoting existing laws and regulation on child labour, forced labour and working conditions and promoting generally a culture of compliance within the industry. They cover fundamental labour rights but also address issues such as compensation, recruitment and occupational safety and health. The guidelines give special attention to addressing hazardous child labour and considering the high level of use of migrant workers in the industry cover also migrant worker’s rights and welfare.

Child Labour and Forced Labour in Aquaculture Sector

In the aquaculture sector, children are known to engage in wide variety of activities, both in the farming and harvesting stages – as well as in associated operations: processing, marketing and other post-harvest activities depending on the nature and scale of the farm activity. Children also perform household chores in their families and may be required to combine school with work. Children of migrant workers are a particular concern as they may not have legal status and lack access to basic services as many are living in difficult to access rural environments. 

There is limited information about forced labour situations in relation to aquaculture farms. Such situation may arise in relation to the recruitment of migrant workers and renewal of their work permits as often this is conducted through informal broker systems that may result into excessive payments and consequently into debt bondage situations. Issues pertaining to withholding of identity documents have also been raised.

Work Hazards and Risks in Aquaculture

Aquaculture workplaces vary a great deal but aquaculture presents many of the same hazards and types of risks as other types of farming but with the added dangers of working in or around water, and night time work

Risks of aquaculture in shrimp farms translate to the different types of operations like preparing shrimp or fish ponds, feeding and maintaining the stock, harvesting and some selection, scaling and pre-processing on sites. Having a good understanding of labour laws and of hazards and risks at the farm level and conducting joint risk assessment by employers and workers allows for systematic addressing of OSH consideration’s at the farm level. Particular consideration should be given to protection of young workers so that they are protected at work and will not be subjected to hazardous child labour.

The GLP guidelines developed jointly by DLPW, DOF and farmers associations are intended to provide specific guidance on how to prevent child labour and forced labour situations and generally ensure that young workers of legal age are protected at work.

ILO-IPEC Thailand
ILO-IPEC project (2010-2014) in Thailand aims to address child labour and forced labour in shrimp and seafood processing areas and to help create an industry that is free of child labour and forced labour and offers decent working conditions and opportunities to Thai and migrant workers. Special attention is given to the situation of Thai and migrant children at risk of entering or/and involved in hazardous child labour. The ILO-IPEC programme is financed by the US Department of Labour.